Food And Drinks

Luminarias to allow southwest Detroit restaurants to offer cozy outdoor service


Everyone who fancies an evening has a new option.

The Southwest Detroit Business Association announced a new initiative on Tuesday, the Luminarias of Southwest Detroit. The Luminarias, Spanish for “light on the hill” and 300 years of Mexican culture, are designed as full-size outdoor facilities in which the participating restaurants offer food and drinks for up to six guests.

Since mid-November there has been an order from the state Ministry of Health and Human Services to stop personal eating. The heated rooms offer guests a COVID-19 pandemic health and safety compliant dining experience.

Each five-sided metal and plexiglass luminaria is 8 feet high and 8 feet in diameter and lights up in different colors and can be customized for special occasions, the press release said.

The group recognizes the need to support local businesses and restaurants at this time, SDBA vice president of programs and compliance Jennifer Gomez said in a statement.

The total cost of the project for the 15 luminarias is approximately $ 72,000, according to Gomez.
A $ 50,000 grant from the Detroit-based Hudson-Webber Foundation made the program possible, along with $ 15,000 worth of pro bono design, engineering, and architectural services provided by Okemos-based AptumBuild Solutions LLC. In addition, Detroit-based Diseños Ornamental Iron provided manufacturing and reduced fees to help the SDBA meet budget goals for the program.

The participating restaurants must make a financial commitment of $ 1,000 for each Luminaria, the press release said.

“This program started as a functional solution for our restaurants, but we are delighted that it has now become a unique branding opportunity and attraction for the (southwestern Detroit) community,” said Gomez. “This exciting program provides a lifeline for businesses in the area to help property owners recover some of their lost revenue while creating a unique dining experience only found in southwest Detroit.”

The Luminarias will be put together at participating restaurants in January and February, starting with Armando’s Mexican restaurant on 4242 W. Vernor Highway. Other companies have signed up for the program, Gomez said, but the SDBA isn’t funding them yet.

In addition to offering al fresco dining, the Luminarias are a branded attraction for Southwest Detroit.

“The project is starting to help the restaurants during the current restrictions,” Gomez told Crain’s on Wednesday. “The structures are decorative enough and functional enough to be used all year round. This is at the discretion of the participating restaurants.”

Nieves Longordo, Ornamental President of Diseños, said turbulent times call for generosity and his company intends to achieve it.

“We will not only showcase our rich history and culture through our work, but also show that Detroiters stand together,” Longordo said in the press release. “Simply put: we have each other!”

Founded in 1957, the SDBA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the economic vitality of southwest Detroit. It serves more than 300 companies and entrepreneurs annually representing restaurants and other food service providers, retailers, healthcare, manufacturing and personal services industries. The companies in the southwest Detroit service area are often immigrant-owned, minority and women-owned companies.


Dusty Kennedy